Meet Russia’s Paris Hilton.
Katia Verber is a billionaire heiress whose mother Alla Verber runs the luxury retailer Mercury, which brought Dolce, Gucci, and Prada to Russia in the mid-1990s.
In a country with an average monthly wage of $686 and 18.9 million people living below the poverty line, Katia drives around in a $250,000 gold Bentley, chats on a $7,000 titanium Vertu mobile phone, and regularly spends thousands of dollars on Balenciaga dresses.
Despite Russia’s poverty, Moscow, home to 73 billionaire residents, has morphed into party central for the rich.
Katia’s friends, including Dasha Zhukova who dates billionaire Roman Abramovich, all channel a Sex and the City lifestyle:
Marie Claire: I used to think people didn’t really dress like Carrie Bradshaw in real life; then I met Katia’s friends. It’s still daylight, but Raquel is channeling Samantha in a black cutaway Balenciaga dress, a black leather corset by Azzedine Alaïa, and black Chanel fingerless gloves. Mira (Charlotte!) is carrying a croc Hermès Kelly bag and wearing a leopard-print Louis Vuitton scarf. Vika, a fashion designer, sports an angular haircut that I can only describe as Miranda Deconstructed.
Katia also has access – in one case the secret password – to some of the most exclusive, outrageously expensive clubs, with V.I.P. tables starting at $3,000 and strict, “face control” bouncers who only allow glamazons and millionaires inside.
And, of course, the billionaire heiress likes snacking on sushi at all times regardless of the price.
Despite their surreal life, Katia and her friends, all in their early 20s, have just as much of a problem finding Mr. Right as ordinary girls.
“The dating scene here is tough,” Raquel complains. “The men are spoiled because the women are so beautiful and there are, like, 10 women to every one guy.”
“But we want quality, not quantity,” Katia counters.
…I ask about the successful men — what do they do? The ubiquitous answer is “beez-nees.” What sort of business? “Just beez-nees,” Raquel says coyly. The new generation — the jet-set children of the oligarchs and “minigarchs” and politicians — has learned never to discuss money.
The Russian Oligarch Who Doesn’t Party
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